BERJAYA Corporation Bhd founder Vincent Tan today announced that he was leaving half his wealth to charity in his will, and urged other wealthy Malaysians to do the same.
The billionaire said this would help the underprivileged to own affordable homes as housing is a basic need of human beings and essential for a person’s sense of dignity, safety and inclusion.
“I think it is not wise to leave all your wealth to your family only when after all, our accumulated material wealth is made possible with the support from Malaysians and government’s concessions and licences and other help by many people we encountered in our lifetime of wealth accumulation,” he told The Star in an interview published today.
Tan,said he did not become rich because of something he invented but was lucky to receive many opportunities such as getting the franchise for McDonald’s and Starbucks, as well as to buy 7-Eleven for a good price from a Malaysian group.
Tan said he was a signatory to the Giving Pledge started by American billionaires Bill Gates and his wife Melinda and Warren Buffet.
The tycoon surprised corporate Malaysia with the recent appointment of Abdul Jalil Rasheed as the new chief executive officer of Berjaya Corp, saying this is his first step of taking a backseat.
Jalil,38, a former CEO of Permodalan Nasional Bhd, is the first non-family member to helm Berjaya.
“I am 69 years old now and by next year I will be 70. I think that’s enough. I have been working since I was 17 years old when I joined a bank as a clerk and I have been working non-stop for 52 years now,” he said.
Tan said it was his wish that none of his children would be involved in the group’s listed companies which would be run by professional managers .
“My children can start their own business as they already have. We need to have a clear demarcation of listed and private entities.”
On his charity work, Tan said he was a big supporter of Tzu Chi Foundation, an international humanitarian organisation, and would devote more time to its cause.
“The best decision I have made in life is becoming a vegetarian after meeting (Tzu Chi) Master Cheng Yen. I feel physically healthier, mentally more alert and spiritually richer,” said Tan.